Colorado National Monument

So, we have another visitor!  Christina came through ready to put in some hiking.  Being such an outdoorsy destination it’s great when someone arrives game for anything.

There is a camping trip planned for the weekend, but we had to get our guest to the National Monument; it’s so close and too beautiful not to!

CO NTL - Monument

This is the actual monument where they raise the US flag every July 4 since John Otto started this tradition in 1911. (Source)

There are two entrances to the park, Grand Junction and Fruita.  Junction (as the locals call it) is the closer choice, but we decided to check out Fruita’s little town for a bite to eat before exploring the park.

As soon as you drive through the entrance the scenery is unreal.

CO NTL - Ascending

CO NTL - Arrival

The park is surrounded by Rim Rock Drive; a 40 mile loop taking you to overlooks and trailheads.  We took the western part of the loop coming in from the Fruita entrance – about 23 miles – so we would have more options of views and short trails to check out.  Some of the places we stopped:

Alcove Nature Trail – ½ mile round trip

CO NTL - A&C Alcove nature box canyon

The trail hits a dead end and you realize it’s over

Otto’s Trail – ¾ mile round trip

CO NTL - A&C Otto Trail Entry

CO NTL - Monument

As mentioned above, John Otto was the crazy bastard that climbed 450 ft. to hang the nations flag atop this beautiful rock in the center.  But that is not his biggest accomplishment.  When he stumbled across these Red Rock Canyons in 1906, Otto lobbied successfully to make this place a National Park.  Thanks John! (Source)

Coke Oven Trail (unsuccessful)

The signage wasn’t too clear and we thought the trail started at the overlook point.

CO NTL - Coke Oven Overlook

It didn’t and instead we ended up off the trail and in a cave.

CO NTL - M - Cave

Still an awesome view though.

CO NTL - A&M - Coke Oven

Ute Canyon Overlook

CO NTL - M - UTE Canyon

CO NTL - A&C Ute Canyon

CO NTL - A-C-M Ute Canyon

Folks, the pictures don’t do it justice.

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